Update: Johnson out for Antigua and Barbuda; Castillo to miss both qualifiers
UPDATE: Edgar Castillo is out for both qualifiers. More below.
The injury news just keeps getting worse for the United States, with a report out of Germany saying Fabian Johnson will miss Friday’s qualifying in Antigua after receiving an injection to battle the flu. Per Kicker, the treatment will have him out for the week’s first game, though he’ll likely be ready for Guatemala.
Just a hunch, but it sounds like Jurgen Klinsmann and staff made a call here. Do we want to have Johnson ready for Guatemala, knowing it will cost him the first game? Or do we want to roll the dice and risk his health for Kansas City, with the potential he could be healthy neither (or both)? Klinsmann may have chose door number one.
Of course, the news looks a little worse knowing that Edgar Castillo, the only other natural left-sided defender on the roster, has aggravated a foot injury in training. Nobody knows the extent of the damage, but he’s being evaluated. If he can’t play Friday, U.S. Soccer cracks the glass case on the emergency plan.
And what is that plan? In the first game against Antigua and Barbuda - a game Johnson also missed - Jose Torres played left back. But he’s also injured. Thankfully, he wouldn’t have been needed even if healthy. Michael Parkhurst’s ability to play anywhere along the defense means he can step up in a jam. Carlos Bocanegra can also play on the left, though Klinsmann’s been reluctant to put the captain back out wide.
In the short term (Friday), Johnson and (potentially) Castillo’s absences shouldn’t hurt the United States, though every little bit counts. All of these injuries could be paper cuts leading to a bigger problem. At least, that’s what some U.S. Men’s National Team fans will naturally think, perhaps tired of injury after injury.
But the bigger issue here is how the players feel Sunday, when the team likely resumes training after returning Stateside from Antigua. If there are no left backs healthy by then, it may be time to take evasive action.
U.S. Soccer has announced Edgar Castillo is out for both qualifiers. Fabian Johnson remains in Germany, recovering from illness contracted this weekend, and is expected to join the team in Kansas City. Jurgen Klinsmann